Gorsuch offers plain language view of law

Not infrequently, state and federal appeals court judges and justices surprise and even disappoint those who supported them when they were nominated. In a way, that is a very good thing — just what Americans ought to want from the ultimate arbiters of our laws and the U.S. Constitution.

Once federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to take a seat on the Supreme Court, it will be only a matter of time until his vote, perhaps the deciding one, on a case puzzles those who support him now.

Why is that important? Gorsuch explained during a confirmation hearing Monday: “These days we sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics rather than striving to apply the law impartially,” he told the lawmakers. “If I thought that were true, I’d hang up the robe. But I just don’t think that’s what a life in the law is about.”

Bravo. Gorsuch appeals to many conservatives not because of his stances on specific policy issues but rather, because of his philosophy on how to decide whether specific laws should be upheld or struck down.

Gorsuch seems to believe in using the plain language of the Constitution to decide cases, regardless of his own preferences. That — someone who believes only the people, not the courts, can change the Constitution — is precisely the type of Supreme Court justice we Americans need.

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